Elena Amell closed her eyes as she stood at the window of her room in Castle Redcliffe thinking of that conversation on the road. Morrigan had been sincere in her want to help she knew as they had become close, almost sisters, during their travels. She just wasn’t sure how much she trusted something Flemeth had come up with.
If only she could talk to Morrigan now! She should have asked more about it then instead of brushing it off for a later time. One thing she had learned since she’d been sent to the Tower as a child was that later was never a guarantee.
She had forgotten that important lesson, though, and now she was on her own. Morrigan had died in Ostagar, killed by Elena’s own hands after they discovered the witch had become tainted more than a month before in the Deep Roads. She, Alistair, and Wynne had burned her body on the same pyre that they had built for Cailan and Duncan before they returned to where the rest of their party had set up camp.
And despite Wynne’s best efforts to be rid of them, Elena had kept all of Morrigan’s possessions; including Flemeth’s grimoire. It was sitting on top of the low table next to her bed, taunting with its presence and possible salvation.
Of course, Elena thought as she opened her eyes, that salvation only meant that she and Alistair survived the battle. He and she had had several long conversations and come to the heart-breaking conclusion that he had to take the throne to keep Ferelden from possibly tearing itself apart. So he would marry Anora after the battle was done and she would never see him again as anything more than her King.
Morrigan had asked if she wanted to save the both of them and she did, Maker help her she did. She wasn’t certain, however, if the cost was worth it and there was no one she could ask. Wynne was the only one who would know enough about magic to have a good opinion and she would inevitably tell her ‘no.’
A soft knocking on the door pulled Elena from her musing and she moved towards it, her heart pounding suddenly in her chest. It was late enough that everyone in the castle should be asleep in order to ready themselves for the oncoming battle. And there were only a few people that would come to her door this late.
“El,” came Alistair’s voice from the other side of the door, “are you awake?”
It took every bit of willpower she had to not throw open her door and throw herself at him. Instead Elena opened it just a little and said, “You should be asleep.”
“So should you,” he answered with a wry smile. Then he shifted nervously, his smile turning to a frown, and asked, “Can I come in?”
“It’s not proper for a King to be alone in a room with a mage.”
As quick as his face had shifted between smile and frown, Alistair went to anger. He slammed a hand against her door and the other against the frame as if he would force the gap open and growled, “Don’t you do that. Don’t you quote Eamon at me, El.”
Elena stared at him for a moment then quietly stated, “It’s practically the same thing we agreed should happen.” All the while she was thinking, Go back to bed, please, go back to bed so I won’t make a suggestion I fear you’ll agree to.
“No, it’s not! I…Maker, El, I know what we agreed to and it wasn’t losing you forever!” He then frowned and looked down the hallway before asking, “Can I please come in? Before we wake up everyone in this wing?”
The logical part of her brain screamed ‘no’ but she found herself opening the door and closing it behind him as he came inside. As she turned around and pressed her back against the door, Elena found herself hungrily eying him, drinking in his form for the last time she could allow herself to get away with it. Then her gaze turned to the book on the low table and a pit opened in her stomach.
“Yes?” he asked, turning to look at her.
She ducked her head, wishing that his name hadn’t come out of her mouth, and muttered, “Nothing. Nothing, I…” Her words trailed off into a gasp as his hand touched her face, the sword calluses on his fingers scratching against her cheek.
“El, what is it?” he asked as he moved close enough that she could feel the heat from his body but not so close that he was pinning her against the door. “Please tell me.”
Elena started to shake her head then found everything spilling out of her mouth. When she was done there were tears in her eyes and she looked up at him, furiously trying to blink them away as she breathed, “Is it terrible of me to consider it because I want you safe?”
Alistair then frowned, his brow furrowed, and said, “It would then also be terrible for me to be considering saying ‘yes.’”
For a moment she couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, couldn’t do anything but move her hands to clutch at his shirt like he was her lifeline to this place and time.
“You think I don’t want you safe too?” he asked, moving both hands to her face. Elena leaned desperately into the touch and shook her head. “You trusted Morrigan.”
“Then I trust you.”
She found herself blinking back tears again then said, “The child will be a bastard and most likely a mage. I’ll have to run at some point to keep him or her from the Tower. They’d kill our child if they found out it bore the soul of an Old God.”
The pad of his thumb brushed roughly across her cheekbone then Alistair leaned down to kiss her before whispering, “I know you would never forsake our child as a bastard. And if you have to run…I’ll do what I can to help you.”
“Our child, El. Yours and mine. I know we agreed that I have to secure the throne and marry Anora. One day I might even come to care for her, I imagine, but right now, right here it’s still you and I.”
It was almost too much to hear him admit he might come to care for someone else – and perhaps even love later – but there was nothing for that now. That was something that would happen now, no matter how much she might not want it, and she hated herself for agreeing to it.
They were Wardens and they had to think of what was best for Ferelden and all of Thedas.
“What about the Wardens?”
“What about them?” asked Alistair. He then moved closer, his body pining hers against the door, and bent his head to kiss her forehead. “They don’t matter here. This is you and I, El, with no Wardens, no crown, no nothing between us. Do you want this?”
Elena stared up at him for a long moment then breathed, “Yes. Maker, yes, I want to be certain you live even if it won’t be me next to you tomorrow.”
“It will always be you I want next to me,” he assured, his voice breaking slightly.
“Don’t say that. You don’t know if that will stay true.”
Alistair frowned at that then nodded. “Maybe not but for right now, in this room, it’s true until the day I die. Now…what do we have to do?”
She bowed her head at that, unclenching her hands from his shirt and letting them lie flat against his chest. The book lying on the table wouldn’t be any help here because she had studied the grimoire’s pages since it had come into her possession. And she had cast the spell she needed hours ago when she’d retreated to her room after supper, knowing that if she decided to speak of it, the spell would need to be on her for some time before it was able to do its work.
“The spellwork is already done,” whispered Elena. “We need only do what we’ve always done in our tent.”
“No,” he said firmly, “not what we’ve always done. Not when it’s the last time.”
Tears spilled from her eyes at his words, then his mouth covered hers and she lost herself in the sensations of the two of them together for the last time.